The Las Vegas Raiders have holes to fill all over their defense, and luckily for the organization, there is a ton of talent available as free agents this year.
The Las Vegas Raiders have a lot to be excited about entering the 2020 NFL season, as they will play their first games in not only a new building, but a new city. This will be the third city the Raiders franchise will call home, after stops in Oakland, Los Angeles, and then back to Oakland.
In 2019, the Raiders finished their time as the Oakland Raiders with a seven-win season, their seventh in the last eight years. In fact, the Raiders have only one winning season since 2002, though there were two 8-8 years back-to-back in 2010 and 2011.
As they turn the page on their time in Oakland, the time has come for the organization to make a real move at some of the elite defensive talent in free agency. Mike Mayock did a fantastic job via the 2019 NFL Draft, and has more ammunition in 2020, but free agency is a big chance for him to really change this team on the defensive side of the ball.
Linebacker and cornerback are the Raiders biggest areas of need on defense heading into the offseason and there is plenty of talent to throw their money at.
The linebacker position is one that could see wholesale changes in 2020, as there is a ton of talent out there in free agency. Tahir Whitehead has been a tackling machine for the Raiders, and Vontaze Burfict looked like his former self before being suspended for the year in Week 4, but the group as a whole is poor.
Looking at the free agency class of 2020, there are some big-time names that really stick out. On the outside, the Raiders would be wise to bring in guys like Shaquil Barrett, Jamie Collins, or Dante Fowler, three players who can not only play well in coverage, but can also come up and make plays in the backfield.
Inside, Cory Littleton has to be the main target of the Raiders this offseason, though a player like Kyle Van Noy would also be a great addition. Overall, the Silver and Black have to spend money on one, if not two of these guys, as the linebacker group has been an Achilles Heel for too many years now.
In the secondary, the Raiders return Johnathan Abram next season, after the rookie missed nearly the entire 2019 season due to a shoulder injury. Abram has the kind of intensity you look for in a safety, and has that kind of personality that will not only make him an incredible player, but also a great leader in this defensive backfield.
In addition to Abram, the Raiders would be wise to bring back Karl Joseph, who is entering free agency, as a trio with Abram, Joseph, and Erik Harris would be one of the best in the division. There is also talk of Lamarcus Joyner moving back to safety, so it appears the Raiders are solid on that front.
At cornerback, there is a lot of work to do, but it does look like the Silver and Black have a true CB1 in Trayvon Mullen. The 2019 rookie proved that he can shut down his opponent after being inserted into the starting lineup last season, and will lead a young group including Isaiah Johnson, Keisean Nixon, and hopefully Daryl Worley, who is also slated to be a free agent.
Outside of bringing in a true WR1 and adding depth behind Derek Carr at quarterback, the Raiders have their lineup set on the offensive side of the ball. They need to utilize their salary cap on bringing in real talent on the defensive side of the ball, because only then will they be able to hang with the best in the conference.